A proposed expansion of the City of Penticton borders is moving on to the next step in the process.
Only 382 valid petitions opposing the Skaha Bluffs Boundary Extension were received by the city by the deadline at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 15. Under the alternate approval process used by the city, 2,680 petitions — 10 per cent of the electors — would have been needed to halt the process and bring it to a referendum.
An additional 10 petitions were received that were deemed invalid as they did not have a Penticton address or a signature.
The area, a 300-acre parcel in the upper Wiltse area, and bordering on the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, was earmarked for annexation in 2014, and in March of this year, a developer requested the process begin.
City council voted in September to use the alternate approval process to gather the necessary voter approval and later extended the deadline two weeks, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 15.
According to Anthony Haddad, director of development services, the area was identified as early as 2002 as a possible growth area, noting that with lakes to the north and south, the city is limited in terms of where it can grow.
A key part of the annexation proposal is the possibility of expanding Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park at the same time. Only a small part of the 300 acres is suitable for development, with room enough for about 180 residential units. The southeastern portion, on the current borders of the provincial park is not suitable for development.
Haddad also said B.C. Parks has been engaged with the process, hoping to add the non-developable areas — rocky bluffs and environmentally sensitive areas — to the existing Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, a popular destination for rock climbing.
With the completion of the alternative approval process, a Certificate of Sufficiency has been prepared to confirm the results of the electoral approval process, which will be presented to city council at their Nov. 21 meeting along with a staff report with a summary of the feedback collected through the engagement activities.
The provincial government will make the final decision on the boundary extension once they have received the results of the electoral approval process.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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